August 20, 2009 – Parthi Yatra of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh Devotees

The final day of the Puttaparthi Pilgrimage for the devotees from the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh in India was on August 20. The term "Parthi Pilgrimage" is a bit confusing. Why specify it as a pilgrimage? Well, why else would anyone want to come to Parthi?

A detailed look at the development of the Puttaparthi village into a township (with its very own Urban Development Authority too!) with such rapid rate would suffice to realize that there are indeed segments of people who come to Parthi for other reasons too - be it tourism, curious visits or shopping at attractive rates! All sorts of businesses are spawning in the town and they are thriving too. Everything is, of course, centred on Swami or atleast involves His name and photographs, and Puttaparthi today is another huge pilgrimage centre like Tirupati or Varanasi.

Of course, the vast majority come to Parthi on a pilgrimage. The term "Parthi Pilgrimage" is used to refer to the two year old phenomenon where a huge group of devotees from a particular region arrive to Puttaparthi in a fashion that is coordinated to ensure that there is uniform distribution of the crowds!

Swami arrived for darshan a little before 5:30 p.m. and as He neared the centre, He enquired from some of the youth members about the details of the programme to be staged that day. Then, moving around, He completed the darshan rounds and went into the interview room.

On the way, He spoke to some of the tiny tots from the primary school and blessed a cut "Ganesha" card that they had made. Please allow for a small but very relevant digression here. It is said that coincidences are miracles where God chooses to remain anonymous. Even as this report was being compiled on 21st August, another programme got underway in the Mandir. It was as if Swami wanted to make some clarification in this report when the programme began with a speech in which the speaker defined what a "Parthi pilgrimage" meant! And a smile danced on His face as the definition thundered in the loudspeakers of the hall - "A pilgrimage to Parthi is an opportunity to witness Sathya, the Truth. Apart from being an opportunity, it is also a physical commitment to the path of Truth or Sathya that Sai stands for." And so, with Gratitude to Swami for having provided in His own "Heart to Heart" fashion, the meaning of a Parthi Pilgrimage, we move ahead with the report.

It was 6:30 p.m. when Swami arrived on the stage from the interview room and asked for the programme to begin. The State President and the main coordinators offered roses and soon the programme got underway. It was called, "Manasa Bhajore Guru Charanam" and there are no prizes for guessing what episode it derived its inspiration from. Since that Golden day in 1940, this bhajan has been the inspiration for thousands on the Path.

The drama revolved around different aspects pertaining to the mind. More than a drama, it was like a dramatic anthology of skits. There was a skit on how the sea God tells the great guru Dakshinamurthy that he needs to keep throwing out waste and dirt from himself because dirt too aggregates over time just like "tiny drops make an ocean"! The story of king Janaka achieving the Ultimate by surrendering his mind totally to the young sage Ashtavakra was also depicted.

[To read this story, please browse this page from H2H Archives. However, in this article, you find Sage Yagynavalkya instructing King Janaka and not Ashtavakra. Whatever maybe the true fact of the story, we all know, the message conveyed in this story is far more profound than the personalities involved].

The presentation concluded with the bhajan, "Narayan bhaja Narayan" in Swami's own voice and the whole hall joined enthusiastically in following it. One of the members also came up to Swami to give Him a pair of cymbals. Swami blessed them.

This was followed by a brief music programme by Ms. Geetika Manjrekar, an alumnus of the Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vihar, Indore. Starting her career at the age of four, she learnt Hindustani classical from Mrs. Malti Joshi of Jaipur Atrolia Gharana, and is currently undergoing training at the Music Gurukul of Mr. Suresh Wadkar at Mumbai.

She sang a song which was followed by a group song that had been composed by Swami Himself years ago, "Aaj ki Shubh Din". After that song, Swami moved down the stage and posed for group photos with the youth. Moving back on the stage, Swami told them, "The drama was very good." He also rolled His fingers into the "superb" gesture! Then, receiving aarthi and blessing prasadam for distribution, Swami moved to Yajur Mandir at 7:20 p.m.

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